Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Goodell Gives Brady "The Treatment", Patriots Respond With War Declaration On NFL

Years ago, back before many of us were born, there was a young politician from Texas named Lyndon Johnson who, during one of his first attempts at running for public office, found himself trailing his opponent in the polls by double digits with a scant two weeks left before election day.

An aggressive debater and with an intimidating persona, Johnson held himself to be a champion of the people - but if he couldn't win an election against an corrupt incumbent old-timer, no one would ever know.  So Johnson called his campaign staff together one afternoon for a luncheon, the purpose of which was to reveal a new, eleventh-hour strategy.

At the end of the meeting, Johnson asked his campaign manager to stay for a moment longer and, getting right up in his face with what was to become known as "The Treatment" - noses nearly touching, the physically imposing Johnson ordered the meek campaign manager to "leak" to the local press a tale of his opponent frequently enjoying carnal knowledge of his barnyard sows.

The campaign manager balked.

"Sir" he stammered, "There is no way that anyone is ever going to believe that!" to which Johnson replied, "I know, but let's make the son of a bitch deny it."

Putting adversaries on the spot and a subject of public ridicule is as old as politics itself.  Nothing derails even the most finely executed plan like having to stop the train to deny rumors and innuendo - and there's not a walk in life that can't be subjected to its evil grip.

Just ask Tom Brady.

Every day since the beginning of the so-called "Deflategate" saga, someone has been giving someone else involved in this filthy drama the Johnson treatment, putting each other on the defensive with leaks regarding their character.

First it was National Football League vice president of game day operations Mike Kensil stomping up the sidelines at the AFC Championship game like a power hungry teenaged babysitter to tell Patriots' equipment manager Mike Schoenfield that he and the team were "In big fucking trouble", like he was poised to tell their mothers that they tinkered with the air pressure in footballs, hoping that panic would take over and Schoenfield would start singing out names and offering to cooperate fully...

...then came erroneous leak after leak from the NFL offices intended to cast a shadow over a franchise that already were viewed by the general populace as not having the best reputation in the game, moving on to the damning Wells Report which NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell used as a springboard to suspend the certain Hall of Fame quarterback.

The appellate process after that, resulting in a month-long series of leaks from the NFL offices that would have been enough to sink an aircraft carrier, ended in Goodell upholding his own ruling, simultaneously filing a suit in a Manhattan federal court to have a judge confirm his ruling (as is common in civil suits involving money) as pre-emptive strike to try and avoid having to face a judge in a more labor-friendly venue.

To have a judge confirm a ruling in arbitration case in which money damages are involved is standard operating procedure to force the issue, but in a case like this one, it is completely unnecessary and, indeed, inappropriate except to satisfy a long-since vanquished "First-to-file" rule wherein one party files a suit simply in anticipation of a lawsuit filed by the opposition - in this case, Brady.

Goodell's motivation for upholding an obviously flawed process? Tom Brady's habit of destroying cell phones once he's finished using them, something that team owner Robert Kraft addressed at an impromptu press conference on Wednesday morning, just hours after Brady himself released a statement on the matter on his Facebook account.

"I replaced my broken Samsung phone with a new iPhone AFTER my attorneys made it clear to the NFL that my actual phone device would not be subjected to investigation under ANY circumstances" Brady wrote. "As a member of a union, I was under no obligation to set a new precedence going forward, nor was I made aware at any time during Mr. Wells investigation that failing to subject my phone to investigation would result in ANY discipline."

Brady went on to give a chronology of sorts, explaining in detail how he and his legal team offered to reconcile the situation after Brady had been disciplined by handing over not only detailed pages of text information from the phone, but also email records - saying that there "is no smoking gun" and that this controversy "was manufactured to distract from the fact they have zero evidence of wrong-doing."

Kraft then delivered a scathing soliloquy aimed at commissioner Goodell and the National Football League, in which he opined that the league rushing to federal court before anyone knew what was going on was "only a tactic that a lawyer would recommend" and that the league is "more concerned about being right than anything else."

As you should remember, Kraft gave up his fight against the NFL's harsh penalties against the team during an awkward press conference on the eve of the owner's meeting in San Francisco, to which this blog opined that Kraft was laying in wait for the legal processes to play out on Brady, at which time he would petition the league for redress - but in Wednesday's impromptu presser, Kraft admitted that he did so solely because he thought it would help in Brady's exoneration.

Instead, the league has upheld the Brady suspension and filed their motion in federal court.

"I was wrong to place my faith in the league" Kraft angrily admitted in a drop-the-microphone moment after issuing an apology to the fans, an event that has sent reverberations through the football world and certainly throughout New England, as the Patriots have officially declared war on the National Football League.

Goodell's "tactic" should have no bearing on Brady's suit and, indeed, makes the league look like it is afraid of what would happen in an actual court battle, because they certainly must be aware of the fact that the Federal Arbitration Act provides very clear grounds in which they are compelled to overturn or vacate both punishments and awards, no matter the venue.  These are:

1. Where the award is the result of corruption, fraud or undue means;
2. Where the arbitrators were evidently partial or corrupt;
3. Where the arbitrators were guilty of misconduct in refusing to postpone the hearing or to hear pertinent evidence, or whether their misbehavior prejudiced the rights of any party;
4. Where the arbitrators exceeded their own powers or imperfectly executed them so that a mutual, final and definite award was not made.

In lay terms, the courts can overturn Goodell's ruling on the basis of undue means (improper processes, which the NFLPA has already addressed), Bias, prejudice and exceeding the scope of their own power - all of which seem to be a given and tie into each other within the word of the law.

One thing is for certain, however. No matter what the outcome of the pending lawsuit that the NFLPA is expected to file in Minneapolis on Wednesday, Brady will forever be considered as guilty to a public that is ignorant by their own free will, determined to hear only that which they wish to hear - which is exactly what Goodell was counting on as evidenced by the wording of his decision to uphold Brady's suspension.

Make no mistake, this is a heavyweight fight between the most popular and most well-financed league in the world of sports and their most popular and most celebrated ambassador - hardly a fight where anyone wins, rather, a fight that everyone loses as the reputations and character of everyone involved comes under intense scrutiny.

Shots have been fired across the bows of both the Patriots and the League in a war that no one wins, because it has irreparably harmed the game of football by posing teams and fans against each other, not on the field of battle, but on a playing field that has no business being part of the sport.

That said, time to give the "Son of a bitch" that runs the National Football League the Johnson Treatment, and to force him to deny that this was all a set up from the beginning, which is going to be very difficult once the judge gets hold of the electronic communications from the league offices during the discovery process.

When that happens, Goodell is going to wish that HE had smashed everything in his entire office, and tossed the hard drives into the Hudson...


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